Monday, February 7, 2011

We Haven't Seen the Worst from Roe v. Wade

Following the horrific story recently of butchery by an abortionist in Philadelphia (To Live and Die in Philadelphia), and President Obama's mention of the gruesome story on the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision establishing women's legal right to obtain abortions, a Lake Charles, LA, pastor wrote the following thought-provoking letter to the editor of his local newspaper. His letter leads to the inescapable conclusion that, unless we find a way to "dream greater dreams" than what Obama articulated in his remarks commemorating Roe v. Wade, we haven't yet seen the worst to come from what that decision unleashed.

Here's the pastor's letter:
The January 23rd issue of American Press included two stories relating to abortion that should trouble all readers. "Lax abortion scrutiny stuns ex-gov." (p. A7) details the horrific acts of Pennsylvania abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell. He has been charged with murdering seven "viable babies born alive and killed with scissors to the spine." He has also been charged with murdering a woman who had come for an abortion. Here is a doctor who clearly violated the ancient Hippocratic Oath's pledge to "do no harm." Pennsylvania officials are lamenting the tragedy and investigating failures at multiple levels of regulatory oversight.

As the trial and investigation proceed, we should all remember that under current law it is just a matter of timing and location that made Gosnell's alleged acts criminal in nature. If he had used surgical instruments to dismember those babies while they were still in the womb, he would have been acting with the full protection of the courts. Thanks to Roe v. Wade and other rulings, the killing of unborn babies is viewed as a constitutionally-protected right.

That brings us to the other article, "Obama marks Roe v. Wade anniversary" (p. A3). Our president chose to mark the anniversary of the infamous 1973 Supreme Court decision by declaring his commitment to maintain abortion as a constitutional right. He wishes to ensure "our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams." Apparently, the president believes a woman has the right to kill her unborn child if she thinks bringing the baby to term would keep her from fulfilling her dreams.

There is so much that is wrong with this picture. It reflects a radical individualism that views a woman's relationship to her baby with no consideration for the father of the child. It thus downplays the mutual responsibility that should inform all sexual activity and subverts the place of the family as a basic building block of culture. Furthermore, such thinking places a woman's right to fulfill her dreams above a baby's right to life. Surely this is a tragically deficient moral calculus.

It is my hope and prayer that the president (and all Americans) would come to see that the rights, freedoms, and opportunities he wishes to extend to our daughters and sons should be extended to them even before birth. How can we claim to care about our children's dreams if we are willing to kill them in order to fulfill our own dreams? Maybe it is our dreams that need to change. Perhaps we could dream of a society that honors life at every stage, acknowledges the importance of mutual responsibility in the sexual realm, and extols the virtues of family life. If we as a nation could embrace such a dream, then we could begin to do the hard work that would be needed to make it a reality.

The gruesome news from Pennsylvania should convince us that we are in need of fresh moral and spiritual reckoning. Will we have the courage to acknowledge the mistakes of our past in order to pursue a better future? Will we have the vision to dream greater dreams?

Rev. Steven Wright
Bethel Presbyterian Church
What Pastor Wright didn't say, but could have, is that once we've made the decision that the lives of unborn children are expendable for the dreams of the mother, than there's no logic by which to say that the life of the mother, or anyone else, cannot be expendable for the dreams of anyone on whom they are dependent.

The monster Gosnell is guilty only of taking the logic of Roe v. Wade to the next level. The devaluing of human life by abortion diminishes all human lives. Unless the moral and spiritual slide set in motion by Roe v. Wade is reversed by a better vision and "greater dreams", we haven't seen the worst yet.

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